Rethinking Intelligence Testing

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 2449 |

Pages: 5|

13 min read

Published: Feb 13, 2024

Words: 2449|Pages: 5|13 min read

Published: Feb 13, 2024

Grades. Many of us endure fatigue, anxiety, depression, headaches, and an overwhelming amount of stress just thinking about them. Parents are often found scolding their children about receiving mediocre grades; some even claim the marks of their child to be disgraceful. This only leaves the student desperate, wanting to achieve the highest grade or percentage possible. We’ve all seen this happen before. A student will practically beg their teachers for extra credit or persist in persuading their teachers to round their 79% to an 80% just to feel even the slightest bit better. But why? Why do we choose to define ourselves as percentages or numbers on a grading scale/ rubric? Why does rounding a student’s grade by a trifle 1% have a significant impact on the students’ self-esteem? It shouldn’t. Although our school systems, parents, and peers have pressured us into believing that grades and standardized tests reflect our intelligence closer examination and other contributing factors prove otherwise. Grades don’t define intelligence just as age doesn’t define maturity, and it would be immoral to base the intelligence of a human by a percentage or a letter grade. Instead, grades measure a student’s performance and should solely be recognized as a reflection of the student’s effort, obedience, and discipline.

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If a fish is tested on its ability to climb a tree then it would fail. However, if a fish were tested on its ability to swim it would prosper and succeed in soaring colors. In a similar manner, if a monkey were tested on its ability to climb a tree it would pass effortlessly, but if that same monkey were tested on its ability to swim down a stream it would be unsuccessful and likely fail. The fish and monkey represent diverse and very different strengths and weaknesses. It is clear that they both excel and fail in different areas. If we wouldn’t expect a fish to climb a tree or a monkey to swim up a stream knowing they are different why do we expect students to excel in all areas knowing that every student has different strengths and weaknesses too? Many factors could contribute to both sides of the spectrum: making the student either successful or unsuccessful. For instance a student who feels passionate about a subject being taught in class, is likely to do better than a student who finds that same subject to be useless and non applicable to their life. A student may be willing to try harder if they are intrinsically motivated, or find that the content of the class may align with a hobby or future career of their interest. If a student dreams of being a nurse he/she is more likely to prioritize excelling in health class as opposed to social studies. The student may acknowledge that grades are important but, may also realize that some classes are more of a priority than others. As a high school student I personally have come to know my strengths and weaknesses. For the past 7 years I’ve averaged a C in math in comparison to all my other subjects where I’ve averaged A’s and B’s. Despite the number of hours I spend studying and practicing I tend to perform the same. Although I study this also leaves me demotivated especially since I’m not passionate about math, it never seems to spark or evoke any interest for me. Lack of interest and motivation for that particular subject have caused me to suffer grade wise just because I know the field I want to pursue would most likely have little to do with math. In contrast, I typically average A’s in both English and any fine arts because those subjects tend to interest me and I’m very creative most of the time. I prefer hands on things and I favor expressing my thoughts and creativity as opposed to working out a seemingly never ending math problem. Both are very different subjects. Both require intelligence. However, intelligence comes in many different forms. Most people perceive intelligence as one thing: persons “smartness” this is often considered fluid intelligence, but theres a lot more to intelligence than what meets the eye. Intelligence also includes the various types: interpersonal, emotional, linguistic, interpersonal, musical, logical, existential etc. Unlike me, a person who does well with math may express logical intelligence. I on the other hand may show a linguistic form of intelligence. Both are still forms of intelligence, and matter equally. They just differ and can be applicable to very disjunct scenarios.

In addition the idea that everyone is diverse and thinks differently it is unjust to grade all 50+ million students around the world based upon the same grading scale especially since the U.S grading scale was created over half a century ago. If the world around us has evolved so much why is it that our policy has pretty much remained the same? Grades mostly are and always have been an accumulation of major tests, essays, worksheets, and quizzes. These tests require students to memorize the content taught in class. A lot of students including myself are guilty of trying to memorize information without fully understanding it just to do well on tests. Without properly learning the concept the information is practically useless. Learning the concept allows for application in real world problems as well as other problems pertaining to that subject. If a student is likely to only memorize/cram the content then then he/she will forget what they have been taught once the concept will be resurfacing again. By teaching a student to recall information at hand we’re training them to function like robots; training them to soak up information and regurgitate it on paper when needed. If a student felt less pressured to score good on these assignments and cared more about the actual comprehension of what is being shown the student would wind up more successful. To combat this issue schools as well as teachers should offer other sundry ways to grade a student other than testing. Perhaps creating a political cartoon would appeal more to a student than writing an essay. Guidelines of what would need to be included should be stated but how they chose to present their knowledge and understanding should be fluid and loosely confined. Similarly, rather than bubbling answers on a scantron sheet maybe a student who is linguistically intelligent would prefer to write a speech or a poem inclusive of the required material. If we learn to play to the strengths of every individual we would come to find that we are all intelligent and shouldn’t feel less than because we failed in one form of expressing knowledge when there are so many others. By doing this schools would be able to unlock the potential of so many kids as well as redefine the depths of a student’s intelligence.

Simultaneously grades/standardized testing shouldn’t be used to measure a students intelligence because roughly “16-20% of students experience high test anxiety It is even proven that students who experience test anxiety usually fall half a letter grade below their classmates”. This advocates for the idea of having multiple ways for a student to show their comprehension of a skill. Test anxiety could be caused by many things and are often split into two separate categories: situational causes and mental causes. Situational causes for test anxiety are more so based on the circumstances presented during the test. For instance, how long a student is given to finish the test, or the environment in which the test is given. In contrast mental causes for test anxiety may include the fear of failing or blanking out during a test. A lot of mental causes are based upon the pressure we as well our parents put upon us to meet certain standards. Most students defy test anxiety with academic dishonesty. “A poll conducted at Fordham university noted that cheaters on average boast a 3.41 average while non cheaters, those who are honest and rely solely on their own thinking average about a 2.85”. Alongside test anxiety many other disorders and impairments could affect student’s grades as well. I was officially diagnosed with depression and PTSD December of 2018. I had been showing signs of these illnesses as well as anxiety and paranoia after experiencing a traumatic illness the summer of 2017. Although I masked my symptoms to everyone I experienced nausea, vomiting, headaches, perfuse sweating etc. I have personally experienced how a mental thought could become something that impairs you physically. This had effected my work, grades, and GPA tremendously especially because I had no idea how to cope with my trauma. I would experience test anxiety, feeling the pressure of failing as well as doing exceptionally good on everything to make up for the year of school I had missed prior. In the process I had lost the ability to think for myself and resorted to committing a one time formidable act: academic dishonesty. I would repeatedly chastise myself for this constantly. I knew my illness hadn’t made me any “dumber” but I still struggled to understand why I couldn’t prosper in school like I did prior to my illness. A lot of students are like me, and tend to hide certain issues that they face that actually affect their work ethic as well as performance. While this doesn’t justify that academic dishonesty should be acceptable it is still unfair to compare the circumstances of all students simply because the circumstances of every student differs. Specifically it is unfair to compare the grades of a student who cheats to one who is honest and a student who experiences test anxiety to one who doesn’t. I know that my grades don’t measure my intelligence, my grades aren’t reflective of what I am really capable of. Unfortunately society pressures students into believing their grades do measure their intelligence which is absolutely bizarre.

In opposition of this argument some have argued that grades and test scores actually do measure intelligence. Standardized tests issued by the states help in reassuring students aren’t socially promoted. Social promotion allows students to advance from one grade to another even if they prove to be incompetent of meeting the required standards. This eliminates the chances of anyone being socially promoted or held back due to their race, disabilities, or even a teacher’s display of favoritism. The state issues a grading policy that is to be used by every student worldwide. If each school or even each county district had their own individual grading policy’s then students would complain that the system is very biased and unfair because different standards would be held for different people. By setting one standard applicable to all everyone is expected to meet equivalent expectations. How could one possibly complain this isn’t fair if the same treatment is applied to their neighbors?

Furthermore, “offices, firms, and franchises relying only on resumes and rehearsed interviews often tend to hire “low skill, service-sector workers— workers with short lived job tenures that have been catapulted into a sea of low quality workers”. Not only does this cost the manager money it also means that the staff turnover is huge. As a cautionary measure of this places of employments are now hiring based upon a persons tests and workforce analytics in addition to the typical interviews, questionnaires, and surveys. Physicians, lawyers, real-estate brokers, chefs, pilots, and many others all take standardized tests to prove their knowledge for a specific profession. Servers are often given tests based upon a restaurants menu. Servers are required to know what ingredients are in a given dish to prevent any allergic reactions their customers could have. If the server doesn’t know what ingredients are used in each dish they can be held liable for any troubles the consumer could potentially face especially since they interact with the consumer the most? Moreover, what if your physician carries traits making him or her suitable for the job but has forgotten how to prescribe you your medication. Depending on your diagnosis some medications can cause more problems than others. In fact, an extra dose of specific medication could cause catastrophic results. For instance, extra doses of blood pressure medication could make a person feel extremely light-headed. An excessive dose of ADHD medication could cause someone, especially a child to feel jittery. Even if that physician is well rounded in traits making them suitable for the job if they do not properly execute the basic functions of their job they’re practically useless. If the professor knows that they failed their tests they would’ve never been granted the opportunity to perform their jobs. In this case and many others standardized tests would prove to be a reliable measure when it comes the student’s intelligence because it tests functions and skills necessary for a person to be competent for their job. While some may be induced to believe that standardized tests and grades do define a person’s intelligence, and are fair to all since they set an equivalent standard for everyone; these tests still should not count as a liability in determining ones intelligence. All brains work differently and everyone’s learning process differs. It is unfair to hold everyone to the same standard because some are benefited more than others. Our grading system and tests aren’t formatted to suite everyone’s divergent ways of learning. Our system is based on equality as opposed to equity which would accommodate all despite everyone’s situations. Therefore, it is unethical to measure a person’s intelligence based on a grading system that doesn’t adhere to the needs of everyone.

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A high GPA, or high SAT scores don’t measure a persons emotional intelligence, a persons ability to make friends, a persons ability to lead, think on their feet, problem solve, innovate, and most importantly succeed do though. All of these things and many others are vital to a person’s success and nearly all of them cannot be measured by grades or test scores. A lot of students display signs of low confidence due to lack of flawless scores. The scantiness of self-esteem possessed by the student could creep behind them for the rest of their lives constantly making them ween the thought that they’re less than or incapable of maximizing their full potential. Grades don’t define intelligence and it would be immoral to base the intelligence of a human by a percentage or a letter grade. Instead, grades measure a student’s performance and should solely be recognized as a reflection of the student’s effort, obedience, and discipline. “A student could graduate from the best, most elite college, but if they’re clueless about the world and society, they don’t know anything”. Schools measure us by one form of intelligence not all. So why should we limit ourselves?  

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Rethinking Intelligence Testing. (2024, February 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 19, 2024, from
“Rethinking Intelligence Testing.” GradesFixer, 13 Feb. 2024,
Rethinking Intelligence Testing. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 19 Jun. 2024].
Rethinking Intelligence Testing [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Feb 13 [cited 2024 Jun 19]. Available from:
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